Claudio Abbado, one of the greatest conductors of all times, has died in Bologna today. He was 80 years old.
Born in Milan on June 26, 1933 he was the son of a violin teacher. The first major recognition came in 1958, when he won the first prize at the Koussevitsky competition in Tanglewood, Massachusetts. After this award, he conducted the New York Philharmonic, the following year he made his debut in Trieste, and in 1960 he conducted for the first time at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, where he served as its music director from 1968 to 1986 conducting not only the traditional Italian repertoire but also presenting a contemporary opera each year. He also founded the Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala in 1982.
In 1989 the Berliner Philharmoniker elected him as their chief conductor, to succeed Herbert von Karajan. At the end of his last concert with the Berliner in 2002, the audience threw him four thousand flowers and greeted him with thirty minutes of applauses. Since 2004 he has been the musical and artistic director of the Mozart Orchestra in Bologna.
Claudio Abbado strongly believed in the therapeutic function of music. He was an open-minded innovator in the difficult world of classical music, a real dreamer. An artist we’ll all miss.